Enterprise Wants $300 For Phantom Windshield Crack

Kyle writes that he rented a car from Enterprise earlier this year, paid for by his then-employer. When he returned the car to Enterprise, and the rental agent didn’t walk around the car with him to check for damage. He didn’t think much of this at the time, but maybe he should have: the company is now after him for his share of the replacement cost of a cracked windshield. What cracked windshield?

Earlier this year, I rented a car via Enterprise through a company I was working for in Alabama (Gulf Oil Spill Response). I turned the car in around 7 pm at the counter and the agent there did not come to look at the car. This didn’t trigger anything to me, since there was no damage to the car done by me. About a month and a half later, I receive an email saying that my claim showed I owed them $300+. This was funny to me since that was the first I’d heard of it. I reviewed it and they claim to have replaced the windshield and I was liable for it, offering no evidence that it was actually my fault. I replied back saying I will not pay. A few days pass and I get a reply saying that their “investigation” determined I was indeed at fault. So, since my company at the time was taking care of this I passed it on to them.

I told the lawyers and accountants that I turned it in w/o damage necessitating anything be repaired or replaced and they said they would take care of everything. Now, this letter is being prompted by my receiving a letter in the mail with another invoice as my former company has not, apparently, paid them yet (and I don’t believe they should anyway). I fully admit my memory is not perfect and that there could have been a chip from a rock, but I don’t remember one hitting and I know what a windshield that needs replacing looks like after having to do so 3 times on my own cars. The car I turned in did not have that problem. Further, when I pressed them on providing evidence, I was told they don’t take pictures of glass since cracks don’t show up (and I’m calling BS on that).

So, I guess my question is what can I say to them if they decide to report this to credit agencies to get them to drop it? I know I turned it in w/o a cracked windshield that needed to be changed, but I have no way of proving that. I will not pay this and would rather take a ding to my credit than give in to something where I know I’m in the right. They didn’t do a walk-around with me and offer no proof of damage, so how can I be obligated to pay this?

If Kyle still has the paperwork he should check to see what statements about the condition of the car both he and the rental agent signed. He should also check to see what provisions for rental car damage his car insurance and the credit card used to pay for the rental might have. (If it was paid for with a credit card at all, instead of a corporate account.)

However, one reader in the past had fabulous success under similar circumstances with sending an executive e-mail carpet bomb to Enterprise higher-ups.

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. obits3 says:

    “I was told they don’t take pictures of glass since cracks don’t show up (and I’m calling BS on that).”

    I agree. I’ve had a cracked windshield and yes it does show up. Your best bet is to get the paperwork that says that the car was in good condition. Even without that paperwork, you should have a good case. Why would a rental car company take 4-6 weeks to replace the windshield (based on the billing time)? I took about an hour for a guy to come out and change mine.

  2. chocobo says:

    Tell them that your investigation has determined that you are not at fault, and they are responsible for their own vehicles.

  3. buggurl says:

    This is why I hate Enterprise and refuse to rent from them unless they are the ONLY option possible. Other co-workers have mentioned experiences like the OP’s, so it’s not an isolated thing.

    If I am forced to rent from Enterprise, I always insist that they mark every little thing that could possibly be construed as a ding on their forms. I have made rental agents write up scuff marks and even dirt just to avoid the experience that the OP had.

    • Dover says:

      My experience with Enterprise has generally pretty good and I’ve not encountered any the issues you’ve described. That’s not to discount your experiences, just adding a different view.

    • colorisnteverything says:

      Maybe it is the locations you have rented from. The one I rented from countless times in Bloomington, IN has been NOTHING but helpful.

  4. nopirates says:

    several years ago when i had a POS car that was constantly breaking down, i used to rent from enterprise when i had car trouble. they were CONSTANTLY trying to bill me for every scratch on the car, even the bumpers. i used to have to walk around the car with the salesman and note EVERY nick, scratch, and chip on the car. EVERY ONE.

    they were by far the closest and most convenient rental agency to me, but i finally stopped using them when this happened: i picked up the car, walked around noting every nick, scratch, and chip on the car. i got in and drove away. a couple of blocks from the place, i noticed a chip on the windshield and returned to have it noted on the agreement. the salesman REFUSED and accused me of causing the damage in the two blocks that i had driven. seriously, i was gone for maybe a couple of minutes. what followed was a huge blow up and ended up costing me around $100 in glass repair (i was a bit more meek then and less savvy about what to do in these situations).

    i was once told that enterprise rewards its employees for billing customers for damages. i have no idea if this is true, but the way those people behaved, i believe it.

    i will never rent from enterprise again.

  5. rpm773 says:

    Welcome to the brave new world of rental car damage claims. If you don’t happen to go in for the rental’s insurance (which is a profit center for them), they’ll hold you accountable for what would otherwise go down as wear and tear.

    I always put the rental on a credit card that will cover any claims that my auto insurance doesn’t. And if I’m traveling for work, I use the card my employer issued to me.

  6. kingjeff says:

    I generally rent from Hertz and one time I got a $75 charge for some sort of minor damage (a scratch or something, they didn’t itemize).

    I sent an email to their website customer service asking for more details and they came back and said that the rental agent made an error and they would refund the $75 immediately. I didn’t even really dispute it.

  7. Dover says:

    Send them a certified letter explaining that you returned the car undamaged and that you refuse to acquiesce to their demand for payment (and leave it at that, don’t say anything about proof or evidence). Keep it short and sweet, you’re just letting them know you’re serious so that they’ll back off if they really don’t have anything.

  8. u1itn0w2day says:

    Five years ago with the economy booming and people traveling and/or renting left and right the car rental companies really didn’t care just because of the volume of business in many locations. Now with the tighter economy there’s probably more corporate pressure to keep repair costs down. This could be a local manager trying to find money for something they before or after this rental. Or they might be trying to train customers to buy their insurance. All this doesn’t help the OP.

    The only thing I see is the damage wasn’t noted in a timely manner. You’d figure there would be some kind of inspection the day they detail the car after you turn it in. Maybe a day or two later but a month or two later?

  9. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    I now CMA and take photos of the car when I return it and am very anal with the pre-inspection and take the clipboard and mark every single little scratch and scuff. Don’t let them control it and tell you that bit of damage is too minor to note. You HAVE to insist on a post inspection – make them come out – its for your protection.

    I’ve been able to talk my way out of a couple of claims. One was Hertz claiming that the spare tire was missing – but we never checked (lifted the floor flap) in either the pre or post inspections. Enterprise also came after me for minor damage found after i turned it in.

    • hotdogsunrise says:

      You have to do this to protect yourself now. Rental car companies are struggling and will ding you with unnecessary fees when they can. I’ve had Alamo try to come after me for scratches on a car I rented, which I had taken pictures of and noted in the inspection. They claimed their system was down and they couldn’t look it up. I had the paperwork and pictures to prove it. They relented.

      This doesn’t help the OP now, but good advice for the future.

    • tdatl says:

      Agreed, you really have to hound them to get the all-clear. What I’ve noticed in many busy rental locations is the return agent quickly tells you it looks good, & they insist you move on. They really dislike having to sign that form showing no damage, but I won’t leave until they inspect the car & sign off that there’s no damage. I’ve gotten the sense from some that they think I’m being a real asshole about it, but as long as they pull this stuff, I’m going to protect myself. That form is my protection.

      I also save that return form for about 18 mos. after the rental.

      I’ve read more stores like this about Enterprise than any of the others.

  10. bendee says:

    Enterprise is by far the worst at this – I’ve found Hertz Gold (free online if you know where to look) to be the best, for two reasons:

    1) They are the only ones I’ve seen with the damage report form – if you report basic damage at the end of your rental, you pay a low-ish cost for it (i.e. $30 for a non-scratched dent, $50-$80 for a scratched dent, etc.), with no administration or loss-of-use fees.

    2) That form is rarely used by them. I’ve returned cars with small scratches and such and have never been charged – once I even mentioned a 3″ mark to the check-in guy, who waved his hand and said ‘don’t worry, it’ll buff out’.

    Enterprise is one of those ‘you get what you pay for agencies’. In addition to the damage they’ll get you for, their cars are usually bare-bones. My Mom had a mid-size from them a couple years ago with no power windows!

    • Trick says:

      I am a Hertz Gold member and after no-fault accident (engine block in the middle of a dark desert road) did about $7500 in damage on a brand new Toyota Camry with a little over 600 miles on it. I was billed just a $2500 deductible which was covered by my own insurance.

  11. Mom says:

    Having had experience with a wrecked rental (not Enterprise)…rental cat companies are relentless about trying to collect if they think you owe them money, and they will do anything they feel like to inflate the amount that you owe, even if it borders on fraudulent, because the contract you signed allows them to. My recommendation would be to turn it over to whoever’s actually financially responsible, whether it’s your employer or your car insurance, and write a letter to Enterprise (cc whoever is responsible), and tell them to work directly with the responsible party. That’s at least what I did, and it stopped the harassing letters until my insurance paid their ($8000 claim for $2000 damage).

    I also call bullshit if they don’t have pictures. They have to be able to show you some proof. Pictures, invoice from a third party, something, otherwise it never happened.

    The lesson I learned from all that was to walk around the car and take pictures, both before and after.

    • humphrmi says:

      Yeah, good point – car insurance FTW. Especially if it’s one of those companies that sicks all kinds of lawyer goodness on BS claimants. I had this experience once a long time ago and my insurance company was relentless in beating down their BS claims. I think in the end they might not have paid anything.

    • colorisnteverything says:

      This. If they are giving you crap about it. Say you want proof. Never had an issue with a rental company, but my Dad did once when I was still living at home on a business trip. He got a call 3 days after returning the car saying he had dented it. He just told them to talk to his insurance company, who called bull and asked for photo evidence or an invoice. When company could produce neither, they said “See ya!” and nothing ever came out of it! That’s another reason why good car insurance is important.

    • mga says:

      And I would insist that the pictures show the license plate # that matches the car that I had. Otherwise they will just come up with a collection of pictures showing damage, and claim that everyone who ever rented from them had a window ding. With the license plate # in the photo, you can be more sure that it was your car, but I still wouldn’t pull it past them to photoshop or manipulate things into their favor.

  12. ThunderRoad says:

    No proof, no payment.

    A picture is at least the MINIMAL proof they need to provide. How hard can it be to google for “cracked windshield” and use that?

  13. Mclick says:

    I have heard too many similar stories about all rental car agencies pulling this same thing. They will charge you their windshield replacement fee for a small rock chip if it is there. Any time I get a rental now I go over it with a fine tooth comb and have them mark everything. I even take pictures of the car myself as back up.

    I got screwed over on a lease for having a chip the size of a pen head when I exchanged my lease for a new car. They dropped the value of the lease by-back by $300+ for this windshield speck. I even had the crack sealed by a windshield repair place and had the receipt. Everyone is anal about windshields. The crack or chip or speck was likely on the car when you picked it up, you just didn’t catch it in your walk around.

    Everytime I have had my windshield replaced in a vehicle, the receipts have the vehicle type and licence number or some other identifier. I would ask to see their receipts for the windshield replacement specific to the car you rented.

  14. Black Bellamy says:

    Man oh man, I beat the shit out of the last rental car I had. My truck broke down and I needed a vehicle to go hunting. So I get this Highlander and try to go down the dirt fire road. I made it a couple of hundred yards before I started leaving pieces of plastic molding behind, all kinds of horrible noises and scrapes to boot. I turn around, scrape my way out of there and park on a real road. Later I drag my deer out on a plastic sled and throw the whole thing on top of the car. I’m driving to the check station and I can feel the sled shifting on the roof. When I check later I see these horrible lateral grooves scraped all over the roof from some tiny rocks that were embedded in the bottom of the sled. To top it all off I had the rear window open a bit and the blood trickled down from the roof and dripped all over the door and the carpeting.

    I returned the thing the next day to an airport location figuring that was the most busy and they wouldn’t have time to check the car out in detail. I was right – the staff was overwhelmed, they took the keys and gave me my receipt. I waited for them to raise holy hell but it’s been two years now so I figure I’m good. I was half-expecting a visit from the police regarding the blood :)

    Yes, it was a jerky move. I hope no one else got blamed for my damage.

  15. Mobius says:

    I rented from Enterprise this past weekend. During the initial check of the car, I specifically pointed out a big gash in the bumper. The woman who was doing my check in said she was writing it down. She apparently only wrote down one of the scratches in the back of the car and not this big gash. When it came time to turn the car in, the woman who was doing that inspection noticed it and said that it wasn’t mentioned. I had to go into a little booth of theirs while they pulled up the history of the vehicle. Thankfully, someone else noticed this gash before so they had a record of it and I didn’t have to pay, but I was freaking out. I very specifically pointed out the gash and the woman failed to even write it down. That’s incompetence.

    • hoi-polloi says:

      Chalking it up to incompetence may be too kind. Failing to note significant damage could have been deliberate on her part.

      Once when I returned a car to the Fresno airport, I was dropping it off at an empty lot. They had an unmanned office there, and signs to return the keys to the counter in the airport. I hadn’t thought of it at the time, but taking photos would have been the best way to protect myself. I may have caused some scratches on the bottom of the bumper, but never heard from them.

    • coren says:

      Incompetence, or the opportunity to charge multiple people for the same thing which they’ll never fix?

  16. MaytagRepairman says:

    I have heard these stories about practically every car rental agency. I’ve been known to buy the property damage insurance from them and just consider it the cost of doing business. If they shake me down wanting to know my insurance company because of some little scratch I tell them no that is what I bought their insurance for.

  17. Mulysa says:

    I rented a car once when mine was being repaired. The car was huge compared with the one I was used to driving. When I returned it, I made a joke that it wasn’t as maneuverable as mine.
    A few weeks later, they took this to mean I did some serious damage to the alignment, and needed to pay for repairs. I had done nothing to that car, and it the delay was rather suspicious.
    They actually reversed the charges when I called the BBB about it, though.
    I did learn to never make small talk with anybody at a rental place, though.

  18. snoweel says:

    Enterprise in Denver tried to bill me last year for a chip in the windshield. It was behind the visor so I didn’t notice it when I got in the car, but I called and notified them within 30 minutes of getting the car and they said they would mark it down as preexisting. A few weeks later I got a bill from them. It took a few calls but I finally got them to drop it. The insulting thing was not just wanting to charge for damage, but also an “administrative fee”. This was how it was itemized:

    Damages $158
    Tax $1.33 not sure what this is for unless it is on the loss of use
    Administrative Fees $50
    Loss of Use $18.38

  19. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    I worked at a large airport as a Hertz car jockey. They didn’t check most cars due to volume and distance to the parking garage. Most damage was caused by the $7/hour car jockeys and the thrill of being behind the wheel of a large automobile.

  20. Eyeheartpie says:

    Enterprise, the U-haul of car rental.

  21. ReaperRob says:

    Sounds like this was at the airport in Mobile, not surprised. The rental agents I’ve seen there always look sketchy.

  22. The Walking Eye says:

    I’m the OP.

    Looks like a few are confused. They didn’t perform the work 6 weeks later, that’s just the first I’d heard of it. They actually did replace the windshield, the problem is they probably did so due to a chip that wasn’t noticeable. They supplied a third-party invoice that was dated the day after I turned it in.

    A rock chip is normal wear and tear, and who knows when that happened? If I never noticed it, then how do I know it wasn’t there when I got it and they just happened to see it in the right light?

  23. quail says:

    Not all car rental locations are equal. Some give great service and don’t jerk you around, while others will claim you caused a scratch or a dent 6 months after the fact.

    I got so tired of the B.S. that if it wasn’t a rental location I did business with on a regular basis I would opt for the pricey insurance just so I wouldn’t have a fight on my hands.

    The last time I dealt with a claim against me I was notified some 6 months after the rental. I got the $200 charge dropped when I spoke to an agent about the time I rented the vehicle and the amount of time it took them to notice whatever damage they claimed I caused. My take on the matter was that they simply went through their books to find the last person who didn’t buy their insurance/mob protection and would try to hit them with the bill, especially if they were a business a traveler.

    • ElBobulo says:

      “I got so tired of the B.S. that if it wasn’t a rental location I did business with on a regular basis I would opt for the pricey insurance just so I wouldn’t have a fight on my hands.”

      Of course, that’s *exactly* what they want you to do…

  24. jimmiej says:

    I used to manage an Enterprise location and this is probably what happened. The branch noticed a crack in the windshield a couple of weeks out and didn’t want to pay for it out of their own budget so they went through their walk-around’s and noticed the renter after you had the crack so they went after you. I would call the branch personally and ask for their local corporate office. Than ask for loss control because the branch no longer handles the claim. You will get a lot further from that person than anyone else.

    Every branch has a random number of people surveyed asking how the service was and if you respond anything but completely satisfied than the branch manager gets in trouble and if he has too many of these he gets dinged or demoted. I would tell them that you will continue to rent from Enterprise but you will never give a completely satisfied response and you will tell all your friends to do the same thing. Also tell them you did a check with the employee who handed you the receipt and there was no damage to the car. There is the possibility of them adding you to their do not rent list but that’s very rare.

  25. Geekybiker says:

    This is why I always take pictures all around the car before and after a rental.

  26. daemonaquila says:

    Don’t drip it. I have challenged a similar attempt at fraud by another rental company in their corporate “family.” In my case, I had returned a car in perfect condition, only to be billed $3,000 a month later for unspecified body damage. When I called them demanding to know WTF this was all about, they said “Well, you should know.” No, I didn’t, since I had never put a single ding in their car, and I demanded to know exactly what was damaged, photos, and photographic proof that it was there when I returned it versus being put there by a later renter or even their own guys while it was being serviced in the airport parking lot. I’m an attorney, so I can get rather nasty about such things quickly. They tried to claim that there was a “huge dent in the trunk” that required replacing the whole trunk. As this was going on, I had my credit card company cancel and reissue the card I had used because I expected the rental company to try to put fraudulent charges on my card (which they had threatened, and which my card company took quite seriously). After about 2 months of increasing pressure from me to put up or shut up, plus some discussions with the attorney general, they gave up with a letter that simply said their internal investigation had determined that I hadn’t caused the damage. In all that time, I never got one photo, copy of an internal report, etc. that I had been demanding.

    Don’t let them mess with you.

    However, I suggest you take my favorite precaution from now on – take photos of all sides of every car you rent, before you drive it off the lot and when you return it. Some companies have taken great offense. I just tell them I’ve had companies try to defraud me before, and I’m going to keep my own evidence file, thanks.

  27. pack.rat says:

    I always take front/back/left/right photos when I return a rental car and try to have something like a current newspaper or one of the company’s personnel in the image so it’s at least a little harder for them to claim that I’m trying to pull a fast one. It’s not a perfect solution but if you’re relying on the company to make sole determination you’re asking for trouble…

  28. jaya9581 says:

    This seems pretty easy. You refuse to pay. They take you to court. You demand visual proof of a broken windshield and proof of replacement within a timely manner of your renting the car. You also demand proof that this damage was noted on other customer’s rentals of this car (as it’s doubtful it was replaced immediately).

    Proof provided, pay and chalk it up to a life lesson.

    Proof not provided, case dismissed.

  29. sopmodm14 says:

    well, if they can’t prove it was him soley, they can’t charge just him

    if enterprise did checks promptly after each return, i’d ask to see the maintenance logs

    if they even missed an oil change, they’re no longer credible

    and if their service records are so shabby, that they’d pose a risk to their customers who have ever rented that car, i’d file a lawsuit

  30. eagle5166 says:

    I rented from Enterprise once; about a month later they sent me a letter stating I had run a toll. They were charing me $0.75 for the toll, and $10 administrative fee. I called to complain and they ended up not charging me any of it.

    • nopirates says:

      you have to be careful about tolls. hertz installs the toll transmitters in areas with toll roads and allows you to use them. you will get billed for the toll PLUS a usage fee for EVERY DAY you pay a toll with their transmitter.

      luckily, you can keep their transmitters in their boxes and they will not be triggered. for those who travel a lot, just get a free EZPass (or similar device, they almost all work everywhere) and use your own. i have been using an extra EZPass for three years in rental cars without an issue.

  31. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    I’m surprised a chipped windshield doesn’t fall under basic wear and tear. Just like topping off oil or dealing with a flat tire, it seems like it’s just one of those things that happens to cars, and a cost that the rental companies have to eat.

  32. SunsetKid says:

    And there is another scam which has been discussed on the web – loss of use. I was involved in a hit and run accident. My own car at the time was ancient so I canceled collision. American Express did indeed pay the damages but Dollar wanted compensation for “loss of use.” AMEX refused to pay unless Dollar showed fleet usage. Dollar said that AMEX never pays for loss of use and refused to back up their claim. It was a pissing match between the two companies. The loss of use was about to go to collections. I negotiated a lower rate from Dollar but I was still ripped off. According to discussions on the web, loss of use is a profit center for car rental companies and Dollar is one of the worst offenders.

  33. Framling says:

    Last Christmas, my wife and I rented from Avis for our road trip home. At some point while we were home, I noticed a rather substantial crack had developed that I hadn’t noticed before. When we got back and I dropped the car off, I pointed it out to the guy, and we filled out a form for it, and I never heard anything else about it.

    This year’s trip is coming up again, and you can bet your ass we’re going with Avis. They won themselves a customer for life.

  34. dg says:

    Let them turn it over to collections. Tell the collection agency that it’s not a valid debt and to provide proof of the debt, including, but not limited to, all evidence in support of damage to the vehicle.

    Even if they send you a picture of a cracked windshield, they can still set the date and time to whatever they want on a camera, so it’s not proof that they took it of the car you rented, or the windshield they replaced. Just refuse to pay until they go out of business.

  35. TampaShooters says:

    My mother came down to Florida for a visit and rented a car from Enterprise, Of course they didn’t have the car she ordered so she had to go pick another one from a lineup that looked like they just came from the auction lot. She settled on a new 2010 Toyota Camry Hybrid, and it was beat up, dings and scratches all over it. The agent came out to inspect the vehicle before driving off and I noted the scratches, dings, and some small dents. She tells me that those don’t count, and they only document large dents… I tell her to document everything period. She was pissed after writing a list of 37 problems inside and out. But, knowing these companies, I figured they’d try to screw my mother over somehow. Always make them inspect before and after and DOCUMENT everything.